Why Are People Using Ad Blockers? Ads Can Eat Up To 79% Of Mobile Data Allotments

from the zero-rate-this dept

By now, usage caps on both fixed and wireless networks have grown increasingly common. And while broadband carriers are endlessly looking toward caps and zero rating for a competitive and financial advantage, overlooked is the fact that a huge amount of a user’s monthly bandwidth allotment is now being eroded by good old advertising. How much? According to a new study by Enders Analysis, anywhere from 18% to 79% of your monthly data bucket can go toward delivering advertising. Previous studies had pegged this between 10% and 50%.

Looking at individual page elements, between the ads and the Javascript used sometimes to deliver them, this data consumption can be substantial:

Especially if you’re on a fixed-income using a limited data plan, current, bloated ads can become a real problem:

Entry-level mobile data plans start at around 500MB/month ? which Enders says could be used to load the text of the King James Bible around 100 times. So “resource-hungry” advertising could clearly become a concern for some users. That’s not to mention that ads can increase page-load time, Enders adds.

It’s important to remember this as websites begin waging all out war on ad blockers. Users aren’t just using ad blockers because they think it’s fun to generate industry histrionics about the end of publishing and journalism as we know it. Users are using ad blockers to protect themselves from annoying malware and poorly-designed advertising and web formatting. They’re also using ad blockers to help protect their wallet from broadband provider overage fees. Block the blockers, and you’re blocking an effective consumer technology tool.

You also have to keep in mind that usage caps (especially on fixed line networks) are entirely arbitrary constructs, not tied to any real-world costs or engineering necessity. And while carriers have worked tirelessly to zero rate their own content or content from the biggest companies on the Internet, so far nobody’s rushing to cut consumers a little slack and zero rate advertising at any meaningful scale. In other words, not only are consumers paying an arm and a leg for mobile data, they’re paying an arm and a leg predominately so they can be marketed to.

When these consumers turned to ad blockers to reduce costs, websites like GQ, Wired, Forbes, and the New York Times decided the best course of action was to accuse these ungrateful bastards of selfishly trying to demolish online content creation. Wired was in such a rush it designed a miserable adblock blocker that’s still blocking users that don’t use adblockers (or in my case have whitelisted the site). It’s just one more reason why adblocker blocking is a lazy “solution” to a misunderstood problem. Don’t want users using ad blockers? Design better, leaner, more efficient and more intelligent ads.

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Comments on “Why Are People Using Ad Blockers? Ads Can Eat Up To 79% Of Mobile Data Allotments”

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60 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Problem is, I use a lot of apps

I don’t do a lot of browsing on my phone; I use a lot of apps. So ad blockers won’t do much for me. I still have an unlimited plan with Verizon but that won’t last long, they will get it from me soon enough.

On a related tangent, I often wonder what kind of innovation we could have without the mental transaction costs of throttling, overage fees and data caps. I think people and innovators could really do some neat stuff if we had the bandwidth to do it.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Problem is, I use a lot of apps

I do this and recommend it highly. Not only does it allow you to easily block in-app ads, it also allows you to run a firewall on your phone that will prevent unwanted communications both to and from any apps you have installed, so you can not only get rid of the ads, you can also stop apps from phoning home.

The ability to do this is the only thing that makes smartphones acceptable to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

“That’s not to mention that ads can increase page-load time, Enders adds.”

And that would be why I first began using an adblocker more capable than a pop-up blocker. Pages taking a long time to finish loading even on what was for the time a decent connection, and investigation showing the culprit was the ads. The sites themselves had perfectly capable servers and sufficient bandwidth, but the advertising companies were skimping, leaving it to take drastically longer to load the ads. Blocked the ads, and suddenly websites loaded normally again. I’ve looked back from time to time, and the amount of shit websites are attempting to load nowadays for the purpose of advertising, advertising tracking, and social media widgets has only reinforced my decision. Loading a website shouldn’t take more than a dozen calls to load shit from other domains, especially for advertising.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…Pages taking a long time to finish loading even on what was for the time a decent connection, and investigation showing the culprit was the ads…

Even on a hard wired cable modem with no limits any page load issue usually is ad related. The fun ones are the broken links that the page load simply stops at that point instead of loading the rest of the page and putting a placeholder in the missing element. (Not that I’m going to miss an ad in the first place.)

Ped_EkSing says:

Re: Adblocking

Ya forgot one more thing to add. Scripting (Tampermonkey/Greasemonkey/etc) and the Anti-Adblock Killer. I use the one from REEK.
Mind you, Wired NEVER saw the blocking…
(Usually Seamonkey/NoScript/Ublock Origin/Greasemonkey. Only when I wanted to run the Java/Javascript my RSS-reader (NetNewsWire) had disabled.)

Regular player on Publishers Clearinghouse…(yes, I’m a moron… but SOMEBODY has to win) and started getting the blocking page no matter what my settings.
REEK fixed that Juuust fiiine.

JBDragon says:

If your site wants to block someone using a Adblocker, go right on ahead. I just will not visit your site. There’s many others I can go to!!! It’s just gotten so bad. Not only the ad’s, but the spying on what a person is doing and where they are going from site to site. No thanks! Even here on Techdirt, I see there’s Amazon Associates, DoubleClick, and QuantCast as advertisers alone. If you open it up and allow some to get in, you end up with a bunch more services trying to gain access. It’s just crazy how much garbage you’re downloading and sending just to look at a web site page. I’m not at all surprised it’s up as high as 79%. I think it’s near the high end most of the time.

I’ve been using Ghostery which I really like. It tells me what’s being block and what it is and I can let through some things and not other things. For example i may want to read/post comments and so I may have to allow that. Instead of just whitelisting and allowing everything, I can just open up one small thing.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s just gotten so bad.

It’s halfway between amusing and horrifying if you look at the numbers these plugins report. Right now on TD, a nice, responsible site, Disconnect is blocking 41 things, and Ghostery 14. There are 8 domains blocked by NoScript. I was watching The Daily Show the other day and I think AdBlock reported 79. Seventy-nine ads on one page!

Anonymous Coward says:

I really don’t care what they want. They never asked me what I wanted and continue to be stone death over the issues that drive people to block ads.

Till they get their act together there won’t be any turning off the ad blocker here. After years of learning of the abusive practices of ads, it will probably take that long to get over it.

Ned Mandela, III says:

Adblock is not theft

I love the people who say adblocking is theft, or that those using adblockers somehow feel entitled to “free content.”

Let’s get a few things straight:
1.) Adblocking is not theft. Websites are the digital form of busking and should be glad to get what the get in ad revenue. No one asked you to put your site up, or invited me to visit, and websites haven’t made it a contractual obligation for me to view ads. If you require me to view ads, I’m going elsewhere. If your content was that good, like many people, I’d be willing to pay for it. You are not entitled to make a living just because you put content on the web. Ads not working? Can make the subscription model work? Then innovate or go away. Your site won’t be missed.

2.) I don’t feel entitled to free content, but I do feel entitled to visit a site and not run the risk of malware being served to my device. Can’t guarantee your site won’t be hijacked with malicious ads? Won’t vet every advertiser and serve only first party ads? Well, they’re getting blocked.

If you can’t make your site work and get the revenue you need, then obviously your content wasn’t worth it to begin with.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The forest, it can not be seen for the trees.

The only thing they see if a drop in revenue & quickly move to fix it. The problem is they refuse to admit that many of the advertisers they work with often serve up malware & other stupid advertising tricks. They expect the ad networks are going to self police, and wash their hands of it. They don’t consider that the advertising isn’t just annoying readers, it is costing them much more than the few cents they lose.

We can’t have a rational discussion because they want everything to remain the way it was. They don’t want to have to change anything other than punishing those who block ads.

They serve up bad advertising.
They serve up malicious hacks.
They serve up hostile code to ‘protect’ revenue.
They refuse to demand better advertising.
They are hostile to readers, and hasten their losses.

One wonders how many of their editorial & writing staff use ad-blockers on their devices. I doubt they would ever give an honest answer, but my money is on a majority using them because they hate the crap advertising.

The big ad network group published some guidelines, but no one is following them yet… but then created more code & guidelines how to punish or defeat ad-blocking that was demanded.

When you declare war on your readers, you send a message. You don’t care about them, and then are shocked when they go elsewhere. Rather than spending more to hack them back for blocking, why not demand better low bandwidth ads? Why not force ad networks to be responsible for bad actors who get slots in the rotation? It has to be better than just pointing at everyone else as being at fault, ignoring the 4 fingers pointing back at you.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Haven't read Forbes in a long time

When I click on a Forbes link, I get that fun page telling me to turn off my ad blocker to enjoy their “ad-light” experience. Meanwhile, AdBlock tells me how many items it blocked in loading that page, and the number is always in the double-digits.

I’m not sure if they just don’t know how many ads they’re trying to serve me, they think I’m stupid to not realize they’re showing me a dozen ads per page, or if they honestly think that many ads is really “light”. But the end result is the same; I haven’t seen an article on their site in a long time.

ECA (profile) says:

tHIS IS NOTHING

Iv been to sites, with my computer, at 80-150 mbps, and the page takes about 5 seconds to display, with all the adverts..

With NoScript..Iv looked at the scripts from a site…A FULL page of them, then allowed the site ONLY, and new ones popped up.. Allow a few safe ones, that I KNOW..and MORE pop up..and STILL there are TONS of scripts waiting to be loaded..

Even with my HOME account, there is a CAP..

Goto YOUTUBE with 60fps, HD…the amounts of data are HUGE..
Want to watch a MOVIE on netflix, or any other service?? EAT IT UP.. And those sites are Pretty good at limits Adverts.

Iv suggested to sites,to MAKE the advert PARt of their site..STRIP the JS, and other parts, and just a LINK to the site..
I WISH there was a Addon, that would put a TAG/NOTE on the SCRIPTS loaded on my machine and tell me WHO SENT IT..a script tracker.
I would also like a LAW/regulation that SAYS..”a SITe is responsible for the CRAP transferred to a consumers system..”

Anonymous Coward says:

Users aren’t just using ad blockers because they think it’s fun to generate industry histrionics about the end of publishing and journalism as we know it. Users are using ad blockers to protect themselves from annoying malware and poorly-designed advertising and web formatting. They’re also using ad blockers to help protect their wallet from broadband provider overage fees. Block the blockers, and you’re blocking an effective consumer technology tool.
And let’s not forget that Android users are also protecting themselves from ‘adverts’ that automatically open up the Google Play page for the advertiser’s apps with zero input from the user. Now that’s what I call malware!

matw2 says:

Ads and Subscriptions

I used to block ads on my PC for malware reasons, but allowed them on my phone so I could go to websites I want to support on my phone if I felt their advertising wasn’t too egregious.

This week though, I somehow tapped on an ad that (unknowingly to me) signed me up for a premium rate subscription service. First I knew about it was when I got an SMS saying I had been charged £4.50. My network said they can block me from signing up to services on purpose (by blocking me from sending an opt-in SMS to premium rate services) but are powerless to stop anything from a web page.

Downloaded the adblock browser yesterday for my phone. Sorry websites I like, one bad apple and all that.

Mel says:

Even beyond slow loading times, I see web pages where I can’t even scroll down to read the article because the processor is pinned at 100%, and Firefox isn’t answering the controls. I wonder if political sites are not seeing some novel Advertising Denial-of-Service attack where an opponent would pay a few pennies to inject stuff into the site to render it unreadable.
The no-scrolling problem is even worse when the page leads of with a huge color photo to make it look more magaziney; when that’s in place I get no article at all.
There are sites I’d hate to lose, but I gave up reading Wired and Forbes a long time ago because their content wasn’t equal to the hassle of trying to read it.

r_rolo1 (profile) says:

The arrogance of some people ...

Well, to be honest, I see all of this crusade against adblockers as a display of arrogance by the part of the sites. Think about it: not even the TV networks or the newspapers, that also live on adverts, demand ( not ask ) you to see their ads before seeing their content ( not that they would do it if they thought they could get away with that ) …

To be it is simple: if a site demands that I drop my computer defenses against crapware to see their ads, that only means they value more the ads than the viewers, and so I treat them with the exact same respect they show to me…

Anonymous Coward says:

The advertisers as well as source sites are trying very politely to accuse adblockers of stealing from them. I’ve no problem with that since the ad blocker is not going to be turned off.

I get a message that I can’t see content because of ad blocking it’s telling me to go somewhere else. I refuse to spend more hours trying to clean up their mess on my home network. All I see ads doing is costing me in time and money when I look at my cap.

I see no benefit from ads only drawbacks. I get no extra product because I saw an ad for it. I see no improvement in quality for that product. What I do see is a hidden cost to pay for advertising that makes the product more expensive, so that either it costs more or you get less of it.

When an advertiser breaks through my security to show me an add, I have a practice I do. When I go to the store, I take a moment to remember who exposed me to ads about what product. I will then buy any similar product but the one that exposed me to advertisement is on the don’t buy list.

CHRIS (user link) says:

Remove adware

I am using Mozilla as my web browser and from few days whenever i open the browser i get lots of ads associated with Positive Finds. I try several time to close the ads and restart my browser but nothing help me and those ads where making me crazy. Finally i contact an expert who tell me that my computer has got an adware. I really get shocked, how did it enter my system. After that he tells me that due to this adware program i am getting several kinds of ads on my system. The ads are as Ads by Positive Finds, brought to you by Positive Finds etc.

I get to know that the adware program are developed by the intention of generating money. These ads may be seem useless for us but the developer of this program use it to promote some third party site and instead of that it get paid. The ads are based on your surfing habit and the keyword which you search most. Sometime the ads may look helpful which help you to save money while online shopping or get you discount on your favorite product from popular online shopping site. But as you click on them you will be thrown towards their associated site where you may be forced to buy some malicious product.

These adware are so tricky that you don’t even any idea how they get installed in your system. These program are also related with some malicious site and it can drop some unwanted application in your system also. I recommend to not take these ads easy because it can do more harmful thing. After spending long time, finally i found http://www.positivefinds.com which is really helpful in removing the adware from my PC. You should also try it.

ryan says:

users hate advertising

Over 1 billion users now use ad blockers while online, Growing by 100,000 users per day. There are only 3. something billion internet users worldwide, only a matter of time before over 90% of all users are using ad blockers. People hate ads and users have the power to decide what they view online. Anti ad blocking websites who try to block ad blockers can easily be defeated by using Firfox add on “yarp” which blocks scripts, giving users access to any site that asks users to disable ad blockers, without ever having to turn off your ad blocker. Advertisers have to face facts, they cannot stop ad blockers or the users that block their unwanted ads, very few users now see ads and the advertising industry caused their own demise by infesting the internet with ads no one wants to see, the users have all the power and the internet is better off for it.

byte_me says:

Ads GTFO

You got your shot on TV! Leave us the HELL alone! We pay for access to the information exchange, via ISP. It’s not cheap! Here’s me on a typical day, “Hmmm, let’s look at this page. ‘POP UP’! What? Close that *hit, I don’t even care about you, nor will I read your pop-up bull*hit”. If you really want me to land on your website, then it better be popup free, ad free, and nonsense free, and tracker free. I like my privacy. I’ll spend money, but I will leave your page if it’s SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL, GIMME, GIMME, GIMME attitude. See’ya! I’ll spend my money elsewhere, I’ll look elsewhere.

David Hefner says:

Data plan/usage theft

I am an avid user of YouTube. Almost every video has unwanted advertizerments that are eating up my limited data plan. As it is unwanted it becomes theft. I have read the “Termes of Service” for YouTube. Nowhere in the contract does it state I cannot be reimbursed by filing a claim against the advertizers. I would suggest everyone find the source of these ads and send them a bill.

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